This animation was produced in partnership with Studio Gilay. Article written by Jacob Hunter, a proud Gumbaynggirr man living on Dharug land, passionate about all things media, Esports and mental health advocacy.
Putting yourself out there online can be a really amazing way to express yourself, connect with people and your culture, and have fun. But just like in real life, there are bullies online, too.
While not feeding the trolls and staying true to yourself is important, this can be easier said than done. Check out how Tuo deals with cyberbullying by going offline and spending time cooking and connecting with cousins. We’ve also provided useful tips if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Tuo cooks the trolls
Seventeen-year-old Birri Gubba and Wakka Wakka Aussie Tuo is an up-and-coming TikTok influencer. They’ve been gaining traction online, but not all the attention has been welcome. The trolls have come in droves and, unfortunately, so have the racist and homophobic remarks.
Tuo’s pretty confident and is willing to clap back at the trolls, but sometimes all the hate gets to them.
... sometimes, it makes me really sad.
When the going gets tough, Tuo takes a step back from it all and finds comfort in cooking and connecting with cousins. By switching off, Tuo doesn't give the trolls what they really want: attention. And connecting with family reminds Tuo that there are people who care about them.
Throwing yourself into your hobbies can be a great way to switch off, feel grounded and clear your head, without needing to be online. For Tuo, it’s all about cooking. But for you, it could be anything you enjoy – whether that’s music, skateboarding, gardening, gaming, spending time on Country, connecting with community or playing sports.
Tips for dealing with cyberbullying
Cyberbullying can be a really difficult thing to navigate. It can be hard to handle harassment and abuse in an effective and helpful way. But it’s important to know that you’re not alone, and that there are strategies to help you through it. Here are some helpful pointers:
- Don’t respond quickly. The person targeting you is looking for an emotional response. So, take a moment to give yourself some distance, and think carefully before you respond.
- Ask yourself: ‘Is it worth it?’ Often the best response to cyberbullying is no response, as messaging back a bully may just encourage them further. But if you feel like you want to follow up, keeping your language calm and neutral is a good place to start. It can also help to have a friend or family member there with you.
- Try not to feel shame job. While it’s definitely not easy to deal with nasty comments, it can be helpful to keep in mind that they are often a projection of the the person bullying you and their own issues, rather than anything to do with you.
- Take screenshots. Screenshot all the interactions you have with the bully. This will ensure you have a copy of what they’ve written if you want to report any malicious messages or threats they send.
- Limit your social media time. When you’re in the thick of it, try cutting down your social media time. Like Tuo does, this can be a great way to switch off, connect with family and spend time on other things you enjoy.
- Report and block. Most social media platforms have built-in options for blocking and reporting people, to help you feel safe online. This can be a simple way of cutting off communication with a bully.
What can I do now?
- If you need urgent support, call 13YARN (13 92 76) to speak with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis supporter.
- Head to Yarning Space if you’re looking for a safe, positive space online to yarn about things that are worrying you and find support.
- Check out eSafety FirstNations to hear stories from mob and find tips to help you be deadly online.